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SWITCHLIST GENERATORS

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  • Member since
    February, 2001
  • From: New Jersey, a founding member of the USSA
  • 2,247 posts
SWITCHLIST GENERATORS
Posted by Pruitt on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 11:07 AM
Hi everybody!

I've been looking at traffic/switchlist generators / operation simulators / car forwarding software, and have come up with only two so far - ShipIt!, by Albion Software, which requires being a database programmer to get it to function properly (not to mention having to input false information into the program and setting up parts of your system in a way that doesn't represent reality much at all); and ProTrak, which appears to be a whole lot MORE than just the traffic generator that I want.

I bought ShipIt! and gave up on it out of frustration a few weeks later (I'm building a large system, and even the small part of it that I started inputing into ShipIt! didn't work properly when I followed the manual's instructions, so I gave up - I'm one of those guys that expects software to function as advertised without a lot of reprogramming / cheating by me to get it to do so).

I've read about ProTrak, but haven't bought it because it sounds like a lot more than I really want. I can't really comment on how well it works, but it looks like tons of data input that I'd like to avoid.

So the question: What other software is out there that will act as a traffic generator on a layout? I should be able to relatively painlessly input data needed to allow the program to build a mathematical schematic of my layout, then simply input data about siding lengths, products, car types required, time between shipments and so forth, and get switchlists that fit my particular layout, plus some diagnostics that will tell me where I may have to make changes to ensure good traffic flow.

For example, if I ship ten carloads of diesel from a refinery and have no on-line industries needing it, the program should route the cars to off-line industries via a staging track or some such (unless I specifically tell it not to do that). If there isn't a way to either use the commodities on the layout or send them off-line, a warning message should appear telling me so.

Are there any software packages out there that will do this without making me a database programmer (as opposed to a database USER) in the process?

Any recommendations will be a BIG help!

Thanks!

Mark B.
  • Member since
    April, 2003
  • 302,230 posts
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 12:29 PM
It's just possible that you gave up too early on "Ship It!". It's not easy, but it can be figured out. Here's one tip: Delete the files in the "secondary" section, and input the basic data (towns, schedules, etc.) everything but the products and industries. Do this also in the "Primary" sectiion. Then switch to "Secondary", and input only one industry (shipper and consignee) and one product. Input just a set of generic cars. Then generate sessions (about 10), and see if things are moving correctly. With only one industry, the sessions generate at light speed, and you can track problems instantly. Make changes until everything runs smoothly. Then duplicate your data into the "Primary" section, and test run. Then go back to "Secondary", replace the industry data with the next set, and repeat until you have everything running smoothly. The biggest mistake people make with this large, complex program, is to try and input everything all at once, then when problems hit, it's untraceable. If you'd like more help, just let me know. Robert
  • Member since
    January, 2001
  • From: US
  • 68 posts
Posted by gerryleone on Wednesday, September 05, 2001 4:33 PM
Mark -- I can't help but agree with Robert. You may have dumped Ship-It too quickly. Have you visited http://groups.yahoo.com/group/shipit for help? Best bunch of online helpers I've encountered. I've just started with Ship-It, and while it's complex, if you start slowly and build it gradually, checking your work, it works great.

There IS one other software program that I know of: Minirail. You can download a demo at www.minirail.com . I've also heard of a program called "Mi Trains," but know nothing about it.
  • Member since
    July, 2001
  • From: US
  • 26 posts
Posted by pgrayless on Friday, September 07, 2001 6:45 PM
Mark,

Model Railroader had an article several years ago about a basic program called T.A.G. (Traffic Automatic Generator). I don't recall the issue, but the program was fairly simple to setup & use from the looks of it (yes I'm a programmer, not a user).

There have been other offerings in the past, but ShipIt! seems to be the one I hear about the most. I agree with the others, that you need to go slowly when configuring a system like this.

Good luck! It sounds like you';re getting some good advice in the above replies.

Paul Grayless
Pgrayless@AOL.com
  • Member since
    July, 2001
  • From: US
  • 26 posts
Posted by pgrayless on Monday, September 10, 2001 6:15 PM
Mark,

The T.A.G. program is in the Feb 1984 issue of Model Railroader. It includes an overview of the design. It shouldn't be too hard to convert it to Visual Basic of Microsoft's Access.

Paul Grayless
pgrayless@aol.com

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